Jean Le Breton, Minister of Finance for François I built Chateau Villandry in the 16th Century during the Renaissance with a pure French style. Le Breton created a sublime garden with six key areas around the castle. Water from the Cher and the Loire rivers flow through the grounds rich in fish and bird life.
1. The Ornamental Garden
The ornamental garden or love garden is made up of four squares framed with perfectly manicured boxwood. The four squares all represent love - tender love, passionate love, flighty love and tragic love. The geometric hedges are shaped like hearts, masks (like the masks worn at masquerade balls), butterfly wings and swords.
2. The Woods
Woods rise up a hillside next to the formal gardens.
The breathtaking views across the castle, gardens, village and valley are worth the climb up the steep hillside.
There is also a beautiful 18th century Pavillion de l'Audience - a hexagonal building with a slate roof, os de bouef dorma windows and French doors.
3. The Water Garden
The classical water garden sits higher than the ornamental garden and can serve as a place for peaceful meditation. Lawns, banks and a cloister of lime or tilleul trees reflect in the four fountains and large pond in the shape of a Louis XV mirror.
The end of the pond cascades under a bridge that connects to the moat beside the castle.
4. The Sun Garden
The sun garden is the newest garden, planted with exotic shrubs, feathery grasses and colourful perennials.
5. The Herb Garden
The aromatic herb garden is a traditional garden planted with species dating from the Middle Ages. Used for cooking and medicinal treatment, it is a fragrant and practical part of the grounds.
6. The Vegetable Garden
Tomatoes, peppers, aubergines, pumpkins, pulses, lettuces, celeriac and purple cabbages are planted en masse to great visual effect. Standard roses, apple trees and weathered urns add height to the garden.
If you are a keen gardener, be sure to check the seasonal advice provided by the head gardener at Villandry. You can learn from his experience by reading his tips about pruning, controlling disease set in the historical context of this magnificent public garden.
All photos by Chez Pluie.